Music and Attention

In 2012 New York Times educational blogger Annie Paul Murphy wrote about music and productivity in which she concluded:

“Classical or instrumental music enhances mental performance more than music with lyrics. Music can make rote or routine tasks (think folding laundry or filing papers) less boring and more enjoyable. Runners who listen to music go faster. But when you need to give learning and remembering your full attention, silence is golden.”

Based on this we set up a quiz for the Adams Center workshop on “gaining attention”:

We started expecting participants to choose “silence” or “classical music without lyrics”. Most agree that classical music without lyrics may help with drawing attention without adding to cognitive load.

However, Professor Janine Morgan and Professor Karen Hendrick both mentioned that sometimes “music with lyrics” may help with learners’ memory if the lyrics are actually about the content students are studying.

Interestingly, several weeks ago, Annie Paul Murphy wrote another article saying that music can help with memory which supports the same conclusion. Please read the comments section of this article for additional examples readers provide on how they use music to help with student memory. The following video in this article showed how it worked for doctors.

We have since found that there is an organization called “songs for teaching” which focused on using music to help with student memory.

If you know of any other creative ways to help students learn, we would love to hear about it.

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